A Mardi Gras Guide to Parade Floats in New Orleans

A Mardi Gras Guide to Parade Floats in New Orleans


Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is the most popular celebration in New Orleans. One of the most iconic elements of the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans is the elaborate floats that parade through the city’s streets. Krewes create these uniquely decorative floats every year. Krewes are organizations composed of members who plan and participate in Mardi Gras festivities.

History of Mardi Gras Celebrations in New Orleans

New Orleans was established in 1718, and by the 1730s, the city had Mardi Gras celebrations, but not yet with parades. In the 1740s, New Orleanians began celebrating Mardi Gras with elegant society balls.

In the late 1830s, Mardi Gras celebrations consisted of processions of masked revelers with carriages and horseback riders, with gaslit flambeaux carriers lighting the way. In 1856, a group of Mobile natives formed the Mistick Krewe of Comus. The parade featured horse-drawn floats and was a huge success, leading to the formation of more krewes and the creation of more elaborate floats.

Mardi Gras Floats Today

Today, Mardi Gras floats are created by various krewes, each with their own theme and design. Some krewes have historical or mythological themes, while others have more whimsical or satirical themes. The floats are typically made of wood and paper-mâché and can be quite large and complex. Floats can be, on average, 50 feet long and weigh 10 tons.

The Process of Creating Mardi Gras Floats

Creating a Mardi Gras float is a long and labor-intensive process, often taking several months to complete. It starts with the krewe members deciding on a theme and design for the float. Once the design is finalized, the float is built by a team of artists and craftsmen. The float is then decorated with colorful lights, beads, and other trinkets. Lastly, the float’s riders are chosen and fitted with costumes that suit the float’s theme, and the throws, items tossed to the crowd, are selected.

When to See Mardi Gras Floats

Floats can be seen throughout the city during the Mardi Gras season, which typically lasts from January to Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The most famous parades are organized by the Krewes of Rex, Zulu, and Endymion and feature dozens of floats and thousands of participants that attract hundreds of thousands of revelers.

Revelers wake up early for a great spot to catch throws, including colorful beads, novelty items, and small toys from the riders on the floats. People often spend all day along a parade route trying to catch as many throws as possible while spending time with friends and family.

Stay at Maison Dupuy

Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans are essential to the city and are a symbol of the creativity and community spirit of the people of New Orleans. Mardi Gras floats are a major tourist attraction for New Orleans, bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together to celebrate one of the world’s most colorful and vibrant festivals.

One of the best ways to see Mardi Gras Floats in New Orleans is by staying at a hotel in the middle of it all. Maison Dupuy is ideally situated in the heart of the French Quarter. Make a reservation at the Maison Dupuy today.